Mayor says city prepared to meet with budget board

Thursday, August 15, 2002
Of The Post and Courier Staff

This week's decision to let the state's financial gurus examine
the plans filed by the three cities bidding for the Hunley museum
could put Charleston back into play if the city's offer comes out as
the best choice in terms of money and visitation.
That's a contention Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. argued earlier
when he said the more than $4 million the city was providing up front
is better than the many more millions of dollars other sites would
give over time.
"We are confident ours is the most sustainable site for the
Hunley," Riley said Wednesday.
Riley's comments come a day after the Hunley Commission voted to
delay making their site selection for at least two months so analysts
from the state Budget and Control Board can review the merits of each
The mayor's comments came after the city sent only one employee
to Tuesday's site selection meeting in Columbia.
Meanwhile, ranking officials from North Charleston and Mount
Pleasant - including the mayors of both cities- showed up in person
at the meeting.
Riley didn't go because of a City Council meeting Tuesday night.
He also defended the decision not to send a bigger contingent on
grounds the question-and-answer time about the proposals was over and
that he expected the final vote to be made then.
Prior to the meeting, it also appeared Charleston had fallen
behind in the running. That's partly because Hunley Commission
Chairman Glenn McConnell earlier dismissed Charleston's plan as too
low in cash and lacking in adequate parking.
But Riley said Wednesday that the city was prepared to meet with
Budget and Control officials to argue their plan is the best for the
sub, adding that long into the future, Charleston is where the bulk
of visitors will want to go.
"I know that our numbers are very good," Riley said.
Charleston is offering space for a Hunley museum on Charleston
Harbor near the South Carolina Aquarium and the National Park
Center's Fort Sumter tour boat dock. Mount Pleasant wants to put the
Hunley at Patriot's Point Maritime Museum, while North Charleston has
offered a site inside the planned Noisette development project on the
Cooper River. Hunley officials want a museum of at least 40,000
square feet.
At one point Tuesday, a question arose about the display of the
accurate period Confederate flags around the museum. All three cities
seeking the sub museum say the authority over what flags to fly is
solely up to the Hunley Commission. But the commissioners on Tuesday
especially referred to Riley's response about the flag during the
March hearings when all three cities first made their bids public.
"The display of the Confederate battle flag and the design of
the exhibits will be up to the Hunley Commission," said Riley, who
was a past critic of the Confederate battle flag flying above the
Statehouse dome.
Hunley commission member Bill Schachte Jr. said the nine
commissioners voting on a site are truly uncertain now about which
way to go, which is why the outside review is necessary.
Schachte also said all three municipalities are still on the
same playing field and have been all along.
"It's still ducks in a pond," he said Wednesday.
The Budget and Control Board is expected to be done with its
analysis in about 45 days, and the commission will reconvene to vote
about two weeks later, pushing the site decision off probably until
some time in October.
Board staffers will look at various aspects of the project
including the value of current and future dollars, cost per square
foot to build the museums, projected visitation figures and dedicated
advertising dollars, among other things.
The Confederate submarine was raised from the sea floor two
years ago and is undergoing study inside the Warren Lasch
Conservation Lab in North Charleston.

Used with permission of The Post and Courier and Charleston.Net

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